Photography by Andrea Wilson
Today’s MotoGP qualifying session at Jerez was anything but dull. When guys like Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow were hitting the deck, Nicky Hayden was quite happy to have a drama-free session and his best qualifying result of the young season in seventh.
“In the end, seventh compared to how the last two races went for qualifying is not too bad,” Hayden said. “Tomorrow we know is going to be a tough race, especially in the heat. The track was extremely greasy. It’s going to make it tough. But I’m looking forward to at least starting a lot closer to the front and see what happens.”
Hayden was battling a major chatter issue in Qatar and Austin, but fortunately they discovered the problem once qualifying had ended in Austin. The culprit was a cracked wheel. But now Hayden is battling with wrist pain.
“Riding two 45-minute sessions yesterday didn’t make it feel any better,” Hayden said in response to the inquiry on his bad wrist. “In qualifying it sure helps going out to a full house in Spain, so with the adrenaline it was not too bad. Like I said yesterday, I have good strength in the hand. I can brake hard. I just also have a lot of pain.”
The new qualifying system can really be a challenge if you have bad luck like the chatter issue he had in the first two races, but Hayden still likes it.
“Well from the riders’ standpoint, it’s certainly intense and stuff but I think it’s clear for the spectators, for the show, for the TV- it’s better,” he said. “I don’t think you can find one person who’s not riding the bike during that time or working on the bike during that time with just 10 minutes to change and back out. Who would say it’s not more exciting and better for the show. I mean today was I would say much more exciting than the one-hour session.”
It’s more exciting, but it makes the free practice sessions more stressful.
“Basically FP One, Two and Three it’s all kind of qualifying sessions,” Hayden said. “At the moment we’ve all had good weather at these races, but we get to a place where Friday afternoon its dry but looks like sure rain Saturday… It does make it a little more stressful.”
Hayden also talked about the CRT’s and their advantage at Jerez with the softer tire compound.
“I think this track is the track where it helps them a lot,” Hayden said. “There are so many long corners where you’re on the edge and that extra grip definitely brings the field closer. I don’t know what the grid is, but the second half covers a lot more than in recent years.”
Hayden was asked if there was a big difference between the CRTs and the prototypes at Jerez in the fast corners.
“No I haven’t really got behind any. I hope I don’t,” he said. “I don’t know. I have at times been places where in the corners it’s not a big difference. They got less power, but here they’ve got more grip, so they can open the throttle and actually go around sometimes easier. Also they’re not as easy as you always think on the brakes. You think you’re just going to out brake them, but they can actually sometimes brake deeper because they’re not going as fast. You’re going faster so obviously it’s just physics you got right there. If you’ve got a big straight away it’s pretty easy to get by them, but corners no.”